YEAR 1 MODULE REVIEWS
PX153 - Mathematics for Physicists
5.7 - ‘Yes and no - superposition state (but it's core)’
Many of the maths concepts are new, however if you haven't done further maths A-level or equivalent you might need more time to understand the topics in term 1 as some of it is assumed. Nonetheless, a useful and definitely necessary module. These topics will be used in modules later in the year, as well as in the degree as a whole.
The first term content is good, however second term can be unclear and less interesting, often focusing on mathematical techniques rather than physical applications. There are plenty of example problems and quizzes/sheets to practice these though which gives a great source of revision questions.
PX154 - Physics Foundations
6.3 - Fortunately it’s core
An incredibly useful module that you'll use as the basis for plenty of physics in later years. There's more breadth than depth of content, so often revision can depend on memorising formulae and recognising situations.
Jon Duffy explains concepts thoroughly and patiently and likes to provide extra content for interest, however some sections may have less clear lecture notes than others, but overall they're ok. The majority of the content can be found in Young & Freedman, and the lecturer will draw examples from it quite often, so doing problems from can be helpful.
PX155 - Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
8.5 - Fortunately it’s core
Enjoyable and interesting content, but often people find special relativity and rotational mechanics to be more difficult topics, so be prepared to put in some extra work for those. The module follows on from A-level quite well; the mechanics side is similar in content but more in-depth, however relativity will likely be new.
A good, clear, thorough set of lecture notes and problem sheets are provided that cover most of the module. David Quigley is also both engaging and entertaining! When revising, covering past papers and problem sheets questions, along with Young & Freedman questions given the time, should ensure you’re prepared. (This method goes for most modules to be honest!)
PX156 - Quantum Phenomena
7.5 - Fortunately it’s core
Last year, this was two separate modules for Quantum (PX101) and Particle Physics (PX147), however the lecturer is the same as the previous PX101 lecturer. The module will likely contain a mixture of material you’ve seen before and new material (for example, an intro to the Schrodinger equation and Feynman diagrams). For the particle physics topic in particular, despite being very interesting conceptually, revision can require a lot of memorisation of different particles and interaction types so can end up being a little dry. For quantum last year there wasn’t too much content, however for many the module was the highlight of the term. The lecturer explains things very well but some content covered in the lectures isn't given in the lecture notes, so if you miss a lecture make sure to watch the lecture capture!
PX157 - Electricity and Magnetism
5 - Unfortunately it’s core
PX157’s content is interesting and most of it will likely be new to you, however it is very rigorous and almost everything has a long proof to accompany it. The focus on the maths often makes it seem like there's too much to learn due to the large amount of equations to memorise. You'll be integrating non-stop but hopefully the maths module will have prepared you for it! The lecturer is infamous for being strict however he teaches very well and provides a great set of online notes that go beyond the examined content.
PX158 - Astronomy
9 - ‘Highly recommended’
This module follows on from A-level Astronomy well, adding more depth to previously learned topics as well as adding plenty of new content. The lectures are engaging though slow-paced at first, and the notes can be difficult to read as it’s densely written with block paragraphs of text. Given the amount of equations and facts given, revision may take a while due to the amount of memorisation, though often they seem easier to remember than other modules by being linked to images and objects.
PX159 - Physics Programming Workshop
5.8 - ‘Fortunately it’s core’
Easy credits so you may as well do it as well you can! For those with coding experience, this should end up being a breeze. If you’ve never coded before, this may be quite challenging at first, however with the online notes and workshops you’ll eventually be able to work through your problems.
The main con is that the lectures aren't great - they don't give much extra information that you couldn't find in the lecture notes or elsewhere online.
PX101: Quantum Phenomena, 2019-2020
This year, this module was online only with no exam, and only consisted of learning out of Young and Freedman, which was mostly fine, since the content isn’t too difficult. The module itself is really interesting, giving you a first look at the Schrodinger equation, and particle in a box, etc. introducing some fascinating concepts. Additionally, the module bridges really nicely to PX262, which is the second year quantum module, so it’s well worth learning this content well!
[This module is now part of PX156 Quantum Phenomena].
PX120: Electricity and Magnetism, 2019-2020
E&M is always such an intimidating module, but it’s not too bad overall. The lectures can be quite intense but it’s just because everything is done very rigorously and explicitly. Erwin’s notes are brilliant and have loads of useful maths at the beginning which does come in handy, and the problem sheets are mostly nice, with lots of optional but helpful problems. Similar to PX101, this module bridges quite nicely to PX263, which is the second year electromagnetic theory module. You learn about Maxwell’s equations in this module, and they are so useful and used very often in PX263 (in a slightly different form though). Overall, it seems like a difficult module, but after going through some past papers and problem sheets, you should be sorted for the exam.
[This module is now part of PX157 Electricity and Magnetism].
PX144: Introduction to Astronomy, 2021-2022
This module is quite interesting. It starts off at quite a slow pace and lots of content beyond the module is discussed, alongside links to other areas of Physics. The lecturer, Daniel is quite laid back, but some may find his pace slow. Otherwise he's pretty good. There are typed notes which aren't the greatest: they're written more like a book and thus information can often be hard to extract. However, the written notes in lectures come as a great summary for revision. It is recommended to do the problem sheets.
[This module is now part of PX158 Astronomy].
PX145: Physics Foundations, 2019-2020
Foundations is a nice module; a lot of the early content is familiar from A-Levels and it’s really interesting. The lectures are great, and Jon is a fantastic lecturer, however there are no written notes for this module which is a bit of a shame. That being said, most stuff from this module is covered in Young and Freedman, so if you get a bit confused then you can always look in there. Come exam season, just stay on top of the problem sheets, use the problems in Y&F, and do lots of past papers and you should be fine.
[This module is now part of PX154 Physics Foundations].
PX147: Introduction to Particle Physics, 2019-2020
This was a fun module, and Steve was a brilliant lecturer. The lectures were great, and the written notes are fantastic as well. There are some links to the Special Relativity section of PX148 in this module, so they go quite nicely together. Out of the two optional modules for first year, I chose this one because I wasn’t too bothered about astronomy, and I thought that particle physics would be more interesting. The exam can be tricky for this module, so revise well by making use of the problem sheets and past papers.
[This module is now part of PX156 Quantum Phenomena].
PX148: Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity, 2019-2020
This was by far my favourite module in first year. The lectures were amazing - David is a great lecturer, his notes are brilliant and clear, and the content is interesting. The problem sheets and Mastering Physics can be really difficult at times though. Not much else to say here – was a great module and would definitely recommend to any Maths students thinking of taking it, since there is a lot of maths involved. To help with revision, there are lots of useful bits in Young and Freedman, loads of practice problems etc., so definitely make use of it!
[This module is now part of PX155 Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity].
PX149: Maths for Physicists, 2019-2020
This was a great module in terms of the content. Literally everything in this module will crop up at some point during your physics degree, and this module really bridges the gap between A-Level and university physics. If you didn’t take Further Maths at A-Level then most of the Term 1 content will be completely new to you. But, answering the problem sheets as you go along and making a good set of notes from the lectures will really help you. For our year, Bogdan lectured Term 1 and he had an amazing set of written notes, with loads of examples and explanations. Term 2 was lectured by Nicholas and his lectures were decent, but the content was substantially more difficult than the first term. I think a set of written notes would have really helped for Term 2 content, but this might not be the case if the lecturer has changed. Overall, this was a decent module and all of the content is really useful for future physics. The Term 1 exam can be quite difficult, so practice time management for it, but the Term 2 exam is usually a bit easier.
[This module is now part of PX153 Maths for Physicists].
PX150: Physics Programming Workshop, 2019-2020
This was a decent module and can be some really easy marks if you’re interested in Python. For me this was my first proper encounter into programming, so I found it quite confusing at the beginning, but there is a nice set of written notes that definitely help, and the workshops help if you’re stuck with a problem. Bridges nicely into PX277 [Old 2nd Year Computational Physics mdoule, this is now PX280], which is the second year programming module.
[This module is now part of PX159 Physics Programming Workshop].